Monday, September 5, 2016

Vice president Joe Biden expects Guantanamo to close by end of Obama's term

United States Vice President Joe Biden said today (August 25) that he expected the military prison in Guantanamo Bay Cuba to be closed before President Obama left office in January of 2017.

At a news conference in Sweden, Biden said: "That is my hope and expectation." Obama promised to close the base when he first campaigned for president. The US Congress has opposed Obama''s plans including passing legislation to ban him from moving Guantanamo prisoners to the US mainland.
Obama sent a plan for closing the facility to Congress back in February: "Obama outlined a blueprint that involves transferring the bulk of remaining detainees to other countries and moving the rest — who can't be transferred abroad because they're deemed too dangerous — to an as-yet-undetermined detention facility in the United States."
When Obama first ordered Guantanamo closed, there were still 242 detainees. This has dropped to 61. Fifteen were transferred just recently. However several dozen detainees are not eligible for transfer and the Congress has banned their transfer to the US. If Congress revoked the ban then Obama could likely transfer all the detainees out and close it down. However, there is no sign that this will happen. Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas said: “As far as I'm concerned, every last one of them can rot in hell, but as long as they don’t do that, they can rot in Guantánamo Bay.”
Obama could claim that under the US constitution he has the power to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the US. There are already convicted terrorists held in a Colorado prison. Although this move would allow Obama to close the prison, it would no doubt cause political fireworks. Under Trump probably the prison would stay open. Hillary Clinton has suggested ways that would "chip away at the ban" and ultimately allow her to close the prison. However, it is not certain that this would even be a priority for Clinton.
There are a number of signs that there are no plans to close the facility soon. Quite the opposite, there are budgets being allocated to repair old facilities and build new ones for those operating the prison as described in an earlier Digital Journal article. Even if Guantanamo does close, the worst feature of the prison will remain in force. Some of those transferred to the US can still be kept imprisoned indefinitely without trial should the US authorities decide to do so.


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